How do we measure neuromuscular fatigue at the workplace? The Toronto CRE-MSD workshop


Marcus Yung and Richard Wells

Key messages

  • Fatigue is linked to both short and longer-term health outcomes.
  • A workshop was convened to identify fatigue measures which are feasible for workplace use.
  • Fatigue was defined as: a process that results in the impairment of wellbeing, capacity, and/or performance as a result of [work] activity.
  • Fifty-seven unique measures were identified from four fatigue outcome domains: work performance and quality; injury and disorders; illnesses and discomfort.
  • Measures linked to all four domains were questionnaires & fatigue scales, Borg’s RPE/RPD scales, visual analog scales.

Implications for the prevention of MSD

Fatigue may be a precursor or potential biomarker for long-term outcomes, including MSD. Therefore, fatigue may be a useful risk indicator and a design and evaluation tool.

However, a single test to measure a single function is not reasonable. We confirm that fatigue is complex, involving multiple mechanisms, and can be measured by multiple measurements and detection methods.

Three measures were linked to multiple fatigue outcomes and should be considered for inclusion, as part of a larger test battery of fatigue measures, to detect fatigue at the workplace.

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Link to CRE-MSD Position Paper